By Stephanie Mayberry
As you probably know by now I am a writer and photographer. I love getting those awesome travel shots; you know the ones. They reflect the flavor and culture of an area. I once shot in a junkyard and came back with some pretty incredible photos. I thought I would share some of my favorite tips with you for getting those great shots while you travel in your RV–not the typical, garden variety, postcard photos, but ones that will transport you to another time, another place.Find interesting angles. That old barn may be cool, but it’s still just an old barn. Capture the charm of the ordinary with extraordinary angles and views. This could mean shooting through a window or laying on your back to shoot up at the rafters and loft. Get creative. When you look at something to shoot, walk around it, look at every part of it from every angle. Notice the little things that the average observer might miss. Look for the way that shadows and light move over an area and use it to your advantage. In short, let your photos tell a story.
Look for things that capture the flavor of an area. You can’t dive into the culture of an area and taste its flavor if you are cruising around in a car. That's the beauty of RVing: you have the opportunity to experience all the wonders surrounding you.
When I was staying in Midtown Manhattan in 2012 I would regularly walk the streets, camera in hand. I once found a fire station with just a garage door along a block of buildings. What made it unusual is that it had the batman emblem on it. Made for a very cool shot.
Add people to the shot. People don’t have to be your main focus, but including some folks into your shots bring a warmth and realness that objects just can’t match. Instead of a street scene of buildings, try including the lady sweeping the sidewalk in front of her business, or a group of teenagers sitting around a fire at a campground . You can still get the amazing architecture, but don’t forget to incorporate a few live bodies in the shot to really bring it to life.
Keep it simple – your gear, that is. If you are hoofing it you probably don’t want to lug around all your camera gear. The good news is, you don’t need to. Your 50mm lens is great for all around shooting and it has a pretty decent zoom as well. Then again, if you are using your phone, well, that’s about as simple as it gets. Me, I can’t leave the house without my trusty Nikon!
Look at the foreground and background before you click. When I was in Montana I took a lot of landscapes, mostly of mountains. The first ones I took were nice, but nothing really popped about them. It took a while, but I came to understand the importance of foreground in my composition to give the background (the mountains) some perspective. It might be an interesting rock, or a cool tree that was incorporated. Alone, the mountains looked nice, the rock or tree was mildly interesting, but when I shot the mountains with the rock or tree in the foreground, well, all I can say is BOOM!
Lighting, lighting, lighting. Natural light is the most flattering. Of course sunrise and sunset will give you some awesome shots. Of course, the golden hour (1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset) is the optimal time to shoot, but you can get some great shots throughout the day as well. Up till around 10 am the light should be great for you.
From around 10 am until 3 pm or sometimes later, you might find it to be a bit more of a struggle. It is still doable though. Just watch your light and know where the sun is. An old photographer once told me to keep the sun over my left shoulder when shooting. That is good advice, but it should not be written in stone. Backlighting subjects can create gorgeous shadows and finding interesting ways that light strikes an object can give you breathtaking photos.
Go out and practice. Get to know your camera so well that changing setting is second nature. Play around with settings, lighting, and composition. Find your own style and create beautiful memories that tell wonderful stories.
If you are looking for some inspiration, I post some photos to this site quite often. Go ahead, take a peek. Maybe soon you’ll be posting a few shots of your own.
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